We had quite an adventure with rules this week. My son broke a house rule, and then lied about it. My daughter then told on my son, breaking another rule. It ended with me feeling conflicted about which rule to enforce. Ultimately, it got them both in trouble.
So, which is the worst offense, lying, breaking a rule, or tattling?
It depends on your values and family rules. Perhaps it’s more important to understand what’s going on behind the action.
Whenever rules are broken, start with Curiosity as your first line of defense:
- It keeps you calm and out of the threat cycle (see blog)
- A little detective work can help you uncover opportunities to support your kids, and ultimately increase their success and responsibility.
My Son: I talked with him about why he had taken the iPOD on the bus. I found out he thought it might increase his social status. He has been feeling “friendless” and wants to be more popular at school.
Opportunity for mom: Do some coaching with him around social skills and self-confidence. Find some opportunities to increase his interactions with other kids.
Lying is a complicated topic in ADD land (look for a future blog about why kids lie.) Our kids are often so tired of being wrong that they’d rather risk being caught in a lie than being wrong again; or, they are simply avoiding something unpleasant. On some level, this is actually a normal response.
My Daughter: Let’s face it, because of her brother’s ADD, she often is second in line for attention, support, time. On top of that, she’s really impulsive, so her mouth often gets her in trouble. Typically when she tattles, it’s because she wants to even the playing field a bit.
Opportunity for mom: spend some one on one time with my daughter. Help her feel special.
Our kids generally want to do the right thing. When they don’t it’s often because their ADD gets in the way. When it’s something else, get curious. It’s a great opportunity to help them learn from their mistakes and to support them in a way you might have never uncovered if they hadn’t broken the rule.